“I’m from Cambridge, the only knives I’ve seen are butter knives” – Big Heath talk about his life as a rapper

Friday 10th July 2020 | Grace

More and more, music of all genres is starting to reflect on serious topics whilst tackling some of the many issues that we face in the modern age. And rap music is no exception to this. However, with it still being such a male dominated industry, there are still many traits of toxic masculinity that hover in the air when it comes to the rap scene. Big Heath, a newish on the scene rapper hailing from Cambridge, is trying to change this. Not only does he sound great, but his message is pretty good too.

We caught up with Big Heath to talk about his new track, world issues, and what it is that makes him stand out from the rest!

Tell us about yourself and your music

I am 24-year-old big lad who comes from Cambridge. I’d like to feel that my music is a true representation of me, fun, honest, deep and energetic. I like to talk about serious topics dear to me, whilst trying to entertain people and having fun with it. My main aim in my music is to inspire people to be themselves and believe in it.

How did you get into music?

I have loved music ever since a child. I have had a stutter my whole life, and after years of failed speech therapy sessions, one day I realised rap was the only way I could overcome the stutter. My older brother used to drive me to school all the time and would play rap, from Kano to Kanye West. One day we were driving in the car, and he realised I was rapping along to the Kanye West song “Never Let Me down”. My brother was shocked and told my parents that I could rap along to the songs and could say what I wanted to say without stuttering. From this point I fell in love with music.

You grew up in Cambridge, what is the rap scene like there and how did growing up there influence your sound?

The rap scene is Cambridge is very limited and not very big really, which has its benefits as well as its negatives. I think the fact that the scene is very small, forced me to have to actively search for rap myself without being force fed it, if you get me. Because of this, I went all the way back to the start, from Rakim to Big Daddy Kane and worked my way forward listening to everyone from Big L to Big Pun, Jay Z to Masta Ace. I truly believe the fact I had to search for rap myself, gave me a higher respect for it and an understanding of the skill required to be good. In terms of my lyrics, I think Cambridge has taught me to be true to myself. I don’t rap about ‘street’ topics like guns and knives well, because I’m from Cambridge and the only knives I’ve seen are butter knives, and the only guns I’ve seen are my granddads when he goes clay pigeon shooting. I rap about stuff I see every day, I rap for the average man on the street.

Tell us about your new track “Once Again”?

My new track is a banger - Ahaha I hate to big myself up but I really love it. I think it shows a different side of me in terms of the beat and the big melodic hook with autotune, whilst at the same time still being true myself in its lyrics and message.

What’s it been like working with Kelvyn Colt and Diztortion?

Working with Kelvyn was a dream. We were both mutual fans of each other and in 2019 reached other to one another. He was over in London last summer, so we decided to jump in a studio session. I wanted a producer who could make a big new school beat in terms of the drums, but still have instruments in it that kept it feeling ‘raw’ and ‘real’. It was also important to me for the producer to bring the best out of both me and Kelvyn - so having worked with Diztortion before I knew he was the one to achieve this.

The music shows you and Kelvyn Colt as different types of visual media (like YouTube Videos and phone videos). Why did you decide to make the video like this?

Our original plans for the video were very different to the end product, but they were decided before we got placed in lockdown due to the whole corona pandemic. Me and my best mate (Henry Oliver) who directs all my videos, wanted to make something creative and interesting to watch even though me and Kelvyn were confided to the lock down rules of staying at home, and I think Henry did a great job on keeping the video high paced and gripping, despite it being filmed at home.

Your music has been described as “real” and “sensitive”. Why did you decide to be so honest in your music?

I think I’m so honest in my music because that’s the sort of person I am. I use music as an outlet for my emotions, so I find it therapeutic and it helps me when I’m feeling down. I also love the fact that people tell me I encourage them and inspire them to be honest and open, especially when they are feeling down. Also, I can’t imagine success tasting that good if your music is not honest and true to yourself, I want people to like and accept me, not an image I’m putting on and pretending.

Do you think the taboos of men being emotionally honest is something that is now in the past? Or do you think a lot still needs to be done?

I definitely still feel it is very prevalent in today’s society. It’s definitely improved since I was younger, but I think the whole “men should be macho” attitude is still about. I think it will get better over time as people are being more honest about mental health.

What is your general opinion on the state of the world right now?

The world is in a bit of a crazy time right now. I think the Covid-19 pandemic just really took us all by surprise and I don’t think we will ever experience something like this again in our lifetime. I’m very glad and proud on most people’s stand on the Black Lives Matter movement right now, and think finally we might see some substantial change in today’s society and how institutionally racist it is, but it will not be a quick fix - we have to make sure we continue to fight for change as it will take longer than just an Instagram blackout.

How has lockdown effected your work?

To be honest, I am a firm believer in the fact I have to be living and taking stuff in to make music, so being in lockdown and not really being able to really live life to the full has definitely had an impact on my work, especially the writing side. But I’ve been focusing my attention on other parts of my work, including future merchandise and other things to keep me busy. Unfortunately, my tour has had to of been postponed due to the Corona pandemic but there’s not a lot anyone can do about that really. To be honest I just can’t wait for the world to be back to normal so I can get back in the studio and start living again properly.

What can we expect from you in the future?

Music, music, music, and more music. I have nearly finished my next project and trust me it’s my best one yet. I can’t wait for the world to hear it.

Check out Big Heath’s life on his Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.